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Henry Faulkner | African American Inventors and their Inventions

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Henry Faulkner

African American comedians have long spread the stereotype that black people love shoes, and this is true. Taking care of your feet while looking stylish has always been important, but if it was not for the work of Henry Faulkner, shoes would not have been as comfortable as they are today. In fact, we might still be forced to smother our feet and make them vulnerable to blisters, sores and infections. It seems that the 1870’s – 1890’s were a bit of a renaissance for African American inventors, and Faulkner surfed this wave to bring comfortable footwear to the people.

The problem with older kinds of shoes was twofold. Firstly, there was the question of material. Unlike modern shoes which are made up of a number of complex composite materials, early shoes were made of leather and hard rubber, and even wood. They were designed to keep feet dry, but that was about it – there was no provision made for the shape of the foot or the comfort of the wearer. The second problem was evidence of this. The shoes had fairly high heels, but were vacuum sealed, and there was no ventilation whatsoever in the shoe itself. The best way to think of it was as a leather sock with a rock hard sole. People would walk and sweat, which would result in humid conditions that bred germs and caused severe friction damage. All in all, it was a pretty grim situation.

However, in 1890, Henry Faulkner patented a design that solved these problems. His design included ventilation for the foot, and featured a raised arch and minute holes at several key points so that fresh air could limit moisture, without allowing water to penetrate the entire shoe. Again, this is a perfect example of how small changes can make all the difference.

 

 

 
 
 
 

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